GLEN (New Hampshire) • US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has accused China of stealing commercial secrets and "huge amounts of government information", and of trying to "hack into everything that does not move in America".
Mrs Clinton's language on China last Saturday appeared to be far stronger than that usually used by President Barack Obama's Democratic administration. Speaking at a campaign event in New Hampshire, Mrs Clinton said she wanted to see China's peaceful rise.
"But we also have to be fully vigilant. China's military is growing very quickly, they're establishing military installations that again threaten countries we have treaties with, like the Philippines, because they are building on contested property," said Mrs Clinton, who was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.
"They're also trying to hack into everything that doesn't move in America. Stealing commercial secrets... from defence contractors, stealing huge amounts of government information, all looking for an advantage," she said.
CASTING A WIDE NET
They're trying to hack into everything that doesn't move in America.
MRS HILLARY CLINTON, US Democratic presidential candidate, on China
Mrs Clinton is tipped to win the Democratic nomination for the November 2016 presidential election.
A White House official declined to comment on her remarks.
In the most recent case involving suspicions of Chinese hacking, administration officials said China is the top suspect in the massive hacking of a US government agency that compromised personnel records of at least 4.2 million current and former government workers.
China has denied hacking into the computers of the US Office of Personnel Management.
Separately, Mrs Clinton addressed the current talks over Iran's nuclear programme.
The US, other world powers and Iran have set tomorrow as the final deadline for a deal to curb Teheran's nuclear programme in exchange for a lifting of sanctions.
She said even if a deal was reached with Iran, Teheran's "aggressiveness will not end" and it would remain a principal state sponsor of terrorism.
Mrs Clinton said she hoped that "a strong verifiable deal" would be reached at talks in Vienna.
At the campaign event, Mrs Clinton said the United States had to be "much smarter" about how it dealt with Russian President Vladimir Putin's territorial ambitions.
She said Mr Putin's moves to expand Russia's boundaries, such as the annexation of Crimea last year, posed a challenge for the US but she touted her experience as America's chief diplomat.
"I've dealt with him. I know him. He's not an easy man... But I don't think there is any substitute other than constant engagement."
Mr Putin last Saturday called for dialogue with Washington based on equal treatment and mutual respect, in a congratulatory message to President Obama marking US Independence Day.
He said relations between Russia and the US remained important for solving global crises.
"In his message of congratulations, the Russian President noted that, despite the differences between the two countries, Russian- American relations remain the most important factor of international stability and security," the Kremlin said in a statement.
The wording of Mr Putin's message was similar to last year's congratulatory message to Mr Obama.